China: Chinese internet giant Baidu has declared to invest $1.5 billion over the period of next three years to develop its autonomous driving projects. Over the next three years, the Apollo Fund will invest 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in over 100 autonomous driving projects, the company said in a press release.
Along with that, the company also announced a new version of the platform, “Apollo 1.5,” which enables cars to “perform autonomous driving capabilities in designated lanes, perfectly recognizing obstacles and passengers and making optimal driving decisions even at night.”
Through Apollo, Baidu hopes to become the first company that has developed a vehicle capable of driving itself via powerful software and sensors. The investment would help the Baidu compete with Google parent company Alphabet and Waymo, its subsidiary specializing in self-driving cars, as well as American car manufacturer Tesla.
The Project Apollo fund is jointly established by the software giant and the Yangtze River Industry Fund, an investment program run by the Hubei provincial government.
Project Apollo has already gathered 70 partners both in China and abroad. The Chinese firm has previously tested its cars close to its campus in Beijing’s northwest without incident, and is working with China‘s government to develop rules for self-driving cars, which currently exist in a legal grey area.